Archive for rumors
In a nod to the understanding that consumers who read on mobile devices are probably on a time budget, the newly launched full-length issues of Vanity Fair have a new offer: reading times. Originally initiated by Liberty magazine in the 1920s, the reading time feature sorts articles for the reader by how long the article should take, which is perfect for the morning commute or for catching up on an article while waiting at a meeting or appointment.
The new feature is only one part of what’s in store for Vanity Fair readers who utilize the new iPhone version of the magazine, created with Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite. In addition to the reading times listed in the table of contents–categorized as Short, Medium, Long, and Everything Else–the new version is optimized from the publisher’s print schematics specifically for the iPhone screen.
As this is the second title from Conde Nast to be optimized for iPhone (The New Yorker launched first), additional new features were incorporated by the publisher’s design team. Those features include “videos, photo slide shows, interactive infographics, and archival articles; sharing capability via Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail; links to Web content on Vanityfair.com; and navigation tools, including the ‘scrubber.’”
Individual issues can be purchased through the free app for $4.99, and a one-year subscription is $19.99. Current subscribers to the magazine through either print or iPad will receive the iPhone version at no extra charge.
The Reading Rainbow television show was broadcast for almost two decades and it taught young children the value of reading. When the show was cancelled a few years ago, Levar Burton and producer Mark Wolfe sat down and decided what to do next. 18 months later they debuted the Reading Rainbow iOS app and secured partnerships with Natgeo and a number of other media properties. Today, the Amazon App Store Twitter account posted a picture of Levar visiting Amazon headquarters. This leads me to believe that for the first time the Reading Rainbow will launch an Android App designed for the Kindle Fire.
The Reading Rainbow app features a ton of original content and appeals mainly to kids. There are some customizable features such as your “Backpack” that contains all of the books you are currently reading. Books are attained when you visit different “Islands” that are themed. Each island has original video content that is hosted by Levar and is made specifically for the iPad app. “We ran the show for over two decades and had lots of content in the library. We made a decision to film 100% original content exclusively for the app and will continue to develop more in the coming months,” Levar told Good e-Reader in an exclusive interview.
The Kindle line of tablets is drawing a ton of public attention with Kindle Freetime and their various parental controls. Parents can establish how long each day they can read, play games, watch video and tweak their limits on the fly. Last week, Amazon unveiled Amazon Coins, which acts as their virtual currency to buy in-app content and also buy new apps. Likely, the Reading Rainbow will have Coins integrated into the app, to buy access to new islands.
— Amazon Appstore (@amazonappstore) May 21, 2013
There has been a massive leak of internal documents today from Barnes and Noble that claim Microsoft has made a one billion dollar offer to buy the entire Nook brand. This includes all the ebooks, tablets, and e-readers that the company currently offers.
Barnes and Noble has sold over 10 million Nook devices since first launching in 2009. Over 7 million people are actively using the eBook Store, downloading apps, or purchasing television and movies. It is no secret that Barnes and Noble is losing money with losses of $262 million for the fiscal 2012 year. B&N is also projected to lose an additional $360 million in 2013, so things look dire.
The mounting losses have spurned the vultures to encircle the embattled brand, with Pearson and Microsoft buying equity stakes in the Nook Media venture. This investment basically spun the digital division away from the brick and mortar stores. Microsoft kicked in $300 million at the time and gave B&N an advance of $190 million to make Nook branded apps for the Windows 8 OS.
Some of the documents also point to Barnes and Noble suspending all Android tablets in 2014 and instead licensing out its content platform to eligible buyers. This would be basically be a white label solution for conglomerates like HTC, Samsung, Acer, and others. The intention is for them to operate their own ebook stores that would tap into the Nook ecosystem to facilitate content delivery. Going this route would cut down on the hardware losses, which due to competition from Amazon, Kobo, Samsung, and Google makes sense. Its very hard for companies in today’s climate to make ANY money from hardware and instead have to rely on digital sales.
Microsoft owning a large e-reader, tablet, and ebook store could really help grow its Windows 8 brand. It would stimulate sales for its line of smartphones and tablets using the OS. It could integrate the entire Nook ecosystem to be bundled into the next build of Windows RT and Windows 8.
Sony is developing a followup to the PRS-T2 e-Reader and it is poised to be submitted to the FCC within the next month. The company normally announces new devices in July and releases them in October. The big rumor right now is the deviation from the standard release cycle and getting a new product to market really soon. Sony normally discounts the current generation before it releases the new model.
The Sony PRS-T2 e-Reader is being discounted in the UK, with lighted case and AC charger for 139 euros. It is also being sold with a $20 discount at Best Buy and Future Shop in Canada. It is heavily discounted basically at most stores in the US, Canada, and UK.
Sony has recently revised its online ebook store and opened up a new book of the month club. It has ditched Google Books as an official partner and is doing great business with Overdrive. Now that Google Reader is being discontinued, the Evernote integration is a really big selling point. A new generation Sony e-Readers is due to be announced soon and it is rumored to use the same type of frontlight technology that the Kindle Paperwhite and Kobo Glo use.
We already know Samsung is reported to launch the Galaxy Tab 3 at the IFA event in September, though new input from SamMobile further whets our appetite with reports of there being a high end tablet in the making as well. The new tablet, dubbed Galaxy Tab 3 Plus, is likely to sport a 10.1 inch display, though it could even be as big as 11.6 inches. However, the screen dimension apart, the real treat could the the display, as unconfirmed but reliable sources point out the new tablet could feature a High Definition Super AMOLED display. The same sources also state the tablet will be built around the 5th generation octa core Exynos chip, which is likely to power it with enough horsepower to be pitted against the likes of the Apple iPad. The latter is also slated to launch its 5th gen iPad during June or thereabouts.
The best tablet Samsung now offers in the 10 inch category is the Nexus 10, which blows away the competition with its performance and range topping display. However, only the the Galaxy Tab 7.7 comes with an AMOLED display, which has already impressed with its deep black and colors that are rich and vivid.
Watch this space for more updates as it becomes available.
Rumor has it that Samsung is keen to offload its Liquavista acquisition to Amazon for an amount that is not likely to exceed $100 million. The move comes in the wake of the South Korean manufacturer shifting its focus increasingly towards tablet computers and smartphones, while dedicated ebook reading devices aren’t as lucrative. Samsung had acquired the Netherlands based digital publishing company that specializes in electrowetting display technology in early 2011, though we have yet to see any product based on it entering large scale production.
“We are currently reviewing many plans, including the sale, but nothing has been confirmed yet,” Chenny Kim, a spokeswoman for Samsung.
Interestingly, while ebook readers represent a declining trend, basic LCD based displays continue to be in vogue while others seem to be shifting towards oblivion. A clear advantage with the Liquavista display is that it allows for good readibility even in direct sunlight while also consuming the least amount of energy in the business. However, that does not seem to be enough to incite excitement among both manufacturers and consumers. What remains to be seen if Amazon will bite the bait given less of consumer acceptance of ebook reading devices, while it is pushing for greater sales of its Kindle Fire tablet range.
Barnes and Noble has reported losses in its Nook Media division, which comprises of e-readers and ebooks. The company is going to be announcing its 3rd quarter financials within the next few days, and suffice it to say the company is not going to meet the projected revenue of three billion. A person close to Barnes and Noble has said the company might be gravitating away from hardware sales and instead license out its technology to other companies.
“They are not completely getting out of the hardware business, but they are going to lean a lot more on the comprehensive digital catalog of content,” said this person, who asked not to be identified discussing corporate strategy.
It seems that Barnes and Noble will begin licensing out the Nook Media platform to Samsung and Microsoft to give them a competitive advantage. Pearson and Microsoft were both early investors in Barnes and Noble’s digital strategy. The shift from Nook e-readers and ebooks from being a singular part of Barnes and Nobles bookstore chain and spinning off into its autonomous entity was a strong precursor to licensing its ecosystem to other companies.
Barnes and Noble has seen dwindling interest in its line of hardware. The Nook HD and HD+ were very solid pieces of hardware, but saw diminished market share due to the iPad, Kindle Fire, and Samsung tablets. Why is Nook no longer catching on with the public? One of the big reasons is international customers and support. Barnes and Noble does not let people living outside the UK and USA to buy its products or access its online bookstore. Both of these countries have tons of variety with hardware and most end up going with an Apple product or a Kindle. Competing with hardware does not make fiscal sense and the margins are too low to see any sort of growth.
Tablets right now are starting to mirror the smartphone industry in the last 12 months. You basically have Samsung and Apple controlling 75% of the entire market and the similar thing is occurring with Apple, Amazon, and Samsung. This leaves Barnes and Noble as the odd man out.
Update: Len Riggio, the CEO of B&N has said that he has filed SEC Paperwork to buy all of Barnes and Nobles 689 retail stores and also BN.com. It looks like something major is going to happen with the retail chain and the digital division.
Update 2: Mary Ellen Keating reached out to us to say “To be clear, we have no plans to discontinue our award-winning line of NOOK products.”
Taiwan based research firm TrendForce has stated Apple might be readying its fifth generation iPad for a launch in Q3 2013. Also, the new iPad 5 will come with several new features which will mark its first complete overhaul since it was launched almost three years ago.
These include a thin bezel design that Apple introduced in the iPad Mini along with the incorporation of the “thin GF2 touch module of the same level as iPad Mini.” This, it is believed, will lead to an iPad that will be thinner, lighter, and more compact than the current gen versions. Another aspect that is expected to inject a fresh dose of excitement around the 9.7 inch iPad is a likely price cut. Interestingly, the once mighty iPad is having to ward off the most intense competition from none other than its own stable mate, the iPad Mini. Each iPad version has been a trendsetter, though the recently launched iPad Mini has gone on to be more of a consumer favorite and has eaten into its bigger cousin’s market share. So much so that the iPad Mini is likely to make up about 65 percent of Apple’s tablet shipment during the first half of 2013. However, the launch of the new iPad 5 is expected to balance things out when it’s launched.
Meanwhile, in another related development, images supposed to be that of the next gen iPad Mini real shell have appeared online. The shell looks a lot like the same on the current gen iPad Mini, though maybe a tad thicker. This again might be the indication of the tablet incorporating retina display for its future iteration.
Hewlett Packard is back in the tablet race and is piggybacking Android this time for a reported high end tablet offering. As per the latest rumors on this, HP is said to be working on a tablet that will be built around the new upcoming Tegra 4 chip. The chip is touted among the fastest currently available and was launched at this year’s CES event. It boasts of 72 custom graphics processing units, though lacks integrated support for 4G LTE. However, there isn’t much else on this that is available right now and HP isn’t confirming the leaks that have made it online.
HP had started out its tablet ambitions with the TouchPad, which, for a change, was based on the now defunct WebOS platform. What followed next was HP’s decision to quit from the tablet business (it had even considered hiving off its entire mainstream computer hardware business) and sold off remaining units of the TouchPad which sparked a buying frenzy that is now part of tablet folklore. The company then stated that its next tablet venture will almost entirely be Windows based. However, it seems there is a change of heart somewhere in between and HP might again be treading up the tricky road in tablet space. This since the Android tablet space is more abuzz in the lower end characterized with budget priced devices. In this respect, it will crucial the way HP prices the tablet.
HP’s current (hybrid) tablet offerings include the ElitePad 900 and the Envy x2, both being Windows 8 based. HP had earlier ruled out developing a tablet based on Windows RT.
If you walk into any major Barnes and Noble or Chapters bookstores, you will notice a slew of people reading. All of these book chains provide couches, desks, and plenty of chairs to chill out and check out some books. Often, people sit for hours, plowing through the majority of the book, and then leaving. Could bookstores get away with charging people to read for hours?
HarperCollins CEO Victoria Barnsley doesn’t think the idea of bookstores charging users to read is “not that insane.” In a recent radio interview in the UK, she talked about how bookstores are facing some downward trends. She predicted that in the next few years, the ebook and traditional book industry will level off, to a 50/50 split. Many stores are facing increased pressure to compete against .99 ebooks from Amazon, and have to look at alternative revenue models.
It is alternative models that have really changed the chain bookstore, all over the world. In Canada, and the US, you now have Starbucks cafes in almost every Indigo, Chapters, and Barnes and Noble store. In the UK, Waterstone’s added a ton of different cafes to most of their larger locations. All of these stores have also added stuffed animals, holiday themed accessories, e-readers, plates, cups, and lots of other stuff. Bookstores these days rely on high margin items to offset the decreased sales.
Chapters has reported a 4.9% decrease in revenue in Q3 2012, according to recently released financial numbers. They cited a lackluster demand for Kobo e-Readers, as the market has reached a saturation point. Barnes and Noble actually reported a very small profit of 2% in the entire 2012 year. Most of this success was pinned on their ebook and e-reader division, which saw a 45% increase for ebooks and 119% for readers. Most stores are not in a position to sell ebooks and readers directly and must do business with Amazon and Kobo, which undermine’s their long-term revenue potential.
Every store you walk into has people chilling out and reading books for free. If you hit the bookstore on your work break, you can often complete a novel in a few days. I know this because I used to do it. Could bookstores charge these regulars that sit for hours reading and never buying anything? How could they police this? Would they issue special cards or incentives with their loyalty program to buy into this? There is many questions up in the air, and suffice it to say, we have it on good authority that many large bookstores are evaluating programs like this.
This seems pretty obvious, given Apple’s present obsession to pack in as many pixels as is technically feasible, making it impossible for the naked eye to differentiate each individual pixel. The Retina craze started out with iPad 3 (among Apple’s bigger screen displays), but has since made it to many MacBook devices as well, not to mention the new iPad 4. In fact, it came as a surprise when iPad Mini was kept out of the Retina display club. However, such a scenario poses the perfect breeding ground for rumor mongers to flourish, and they are back with rumors of Apple already into developing the next gen iPad Mini that will offer Retina display.
However, it’s not as simple as it seems. Apple can;t just add a new higher resolution display to the already existing iPad Mini. A more heavy duty battery and a more capable processor are be required to ensure the same zippy performance levels as well as all day long battery backup times that has already made the iPad Mini one of the most sought after tablet devices. However, a higher capacity battery might add a few precious millimeters to the mini iPad, which boasts of an ultra thin profile, which in turn is one of the tablet’s key USP. The iPad Mini stands for mobility and portability, compared to the regular 9.7 inch iPad, and it would be really interesting to see how Apple manages the Mini’s future. It will be difficult to create an iPad Mini with Retina display while still keeping it slim and snappy.
Amazon is in late stage negotiations with Sweden based Bokrondellen to iron out specific demographics on the entire publishing industry. Bokrondellen basically has access to all of the metadata for the entire Swedish digital and traditional publishing industry. They hold all of the sales figures for the competition and know all about the current distribution pipelines. This is standard practice for Amazon when they are going to be penetrating a new market.
One of the main reasons why Amazon wants to enter the Swedish market is to appeal to the expatriates that live in Germany and the UK. Amazon already has a strong presence in both of those countries and being able to sell books written in their native language is something that would be very appealing.
If Amazon intends on entering Sweden in the next six months, there will obviously be some companies whose market reach will be severely diminished. Bokus is one company that has been around a few years and sells ebooks online in EPUB and PDF format. Elib is another one that does the same thing and has agreements with most of the major publishers. Obviously, Amazon will never do business with an existing company and will approach the publishers themselves to iron out agreements. The main factor right now is evaluating how existing businesses distribute books to other countries and domestically.
There are some very compelling benefits of Amazon’s strategy here. It will give a huge boost to the entire digital publishing segment. People will be more aware of the Kindle line of devices that will undoubtedly be available in the major bookstores. Independent authors will also have viable avenue to self-publish their books with Kindle Direct Publishing.
Earlier this year, Microsoft decided to invest in Barnes and Noble to a tune of $605 million dollars, over five years. This deal is going to bring the Nook eBook ecosystem to one of the premier showcase pieces for the upcoming OS. This gives Barnes and Noble the ability to expand outside of the USA and UK market, to sell books worldwide. This weekend, rumors are swirling about the next generation of Nook Tablets, to have Windows 8 as their new operating system.
When Barnes and Noble originally debuted the Nook Color a few years ago, the company was betting on Android to be one of the prime movers for its growth. It curated its own app store, that allowed developers to customize apps based on the screen and resolution. With subsequent followups to the Nook Color in the form of the Nook Tablet line, the company maintained a heavily customized user interface to give you an alternative to a vanilla Android experience. With Kobo, Amazon, and other companies very invested in Android, is the time right for B&N to give us a new experience?
One of the benefits of Windows 8 for the Nook Tablet 2 would be a more global appeal. The current line of Nook Tablets only allows customers in the USA and upcoming UK launch to tap into the ecosystem. If you live in Canada or in other international territories, you cannot buy books, apps, movies, or even use the unit if you don’t fake a USA address. In order to expand, B&N needs to release a device that would allow all markets to purchase it and buy content. This would give the company a huge advantage over the Amazon Kindle Fire HD line, which only lets you purchase a large number of things if you live in the USA.
The Microsoft and Barnes and Noble partnership may prove fruitful. Despite the rumors surrounding the Nook Tablet gravitating towards a Windows experience, I think B&N has too much invested in Android to make a huge shift. My thoughts are that B&N will produce an Android Tablet AND a Windows Tablet to see which one has the greater ability to effectively penetrate the market.
At any rate, Barnes and Noble normally announces new devices in New York around the end of this month every year. We won’t have to wait any longer than four weeks to find out the scoops. Of course, Good e-Reader will be live on the scene for the announcement, to give you pictures, video, and all the news.